The Poetics Of Space by Gaston Bachelard is filled with a series of metaphors portrayed through poetic imagery. Although each chapter has a distinct focus, the recurrent poetic theme ties together the philosophical outlook with reference to space and its relationships.
I found a nest I the skeleton of the ivy
A soft nest of country moss and dream herb.
White nests your birds will flower
You will fly, feather paths.
In the chapter ‘nests,’Bachelard talks about shelter as a primal instinct. He compares our homes to the carapace of a turtle and the shell of a snail, and suggests that like animals, humans too withdraw into their corners to find their place of rest and quiet.
‘Men can do everything but build a bird’s nest.’
He goes on to talk about how we marvel nests, a work unmatchable by any mason or builder. It serves as a ‘warm home’ for birds, ‘a life giving home,’ and a ‘shelter.’ We all marvel at the sight of a nest, and remain disappointed when we find it once abandoned by its inhabitants. The joy of seeing the nest and the fear of the trembling reaction of its inhabitants to the presence of a human intrigued the writer even more.
The writer went on to describe the sounds of these birds and how they attached a person to the tree that they belonged to. They comprise such an essential part of one’s surrounding that he begins to associate various actions to these sounds to find solace.
The writer also talks about return and loyalty, coming to back to where we’re most comfortable, where we feel warm, where we feel at home. A calm nest and an old home are images of comfort.
A bird is the most hardworking worker without tools, that moulds its nest with its breast constantly pressing down all around, creating a rounded surface with everything evenly flattened due to the pressure it exerts. Just as a bird moulds its surroundings to procure shelter and protection, so does a human, according to his or her own basic needs.
The writer essentially uses the metaphor of a nest, to illustrate the warmth, suitability and hide away space of the bird, having similar characteristics to the spaces a human being desires. He does so through numerous examples, praise for the builder and excitement and loyalty to his primal place, always longing to return.